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Gifts of joy and warmth

ABHUTCHISON, Sierra Sun

Three or four years ago Kathy Neus and her two daughters, Josey and Micaela, were looking for something to do on a Friday night during the holidays.

They ended up volunteering to help wrap gifts for the Community Christmas toy drive.

Every year since, when the holiday season creeps up on the calendar, Neus said her daughters ask her when it’s time to wrap gifts.

“They both have really gotten into it,” Neus said. “It’s good for the kids to see that some kids don’t have ‘simple’ things like stuffed animals or barbies.”

Micaela, who is 18, called from her university in Santa Barbara this year, to ask when they were going to wrap gifts so she could get home in time.

It’s not a tradition, said Neus, it’s just natural.

“It’s when you see that look of gratefulness in people’s eyes (when your delivering gifts), that makes you realize what an impact you can have,” she said.

This year, Neus and her daughters again joined hundreds of Truckee volunteers this past weekend to wrap gifts, collect final donations of toys, food items and coats, and make deliveries to more than 128 Truckee families in need.

According to Joan Hartwell, president of the board for Truckee Community Christmas, Inc., the organization adopted 32 families, enlisted 96 families in its distribution program and adopted 54 seniors, who received a variety of gifts ranging from reclining chairs to electric blankets and watches.

Truckee Community Christmas, in its 12th year of operation, also gave away 70 turkeys and 24 Christmas trees donated by The Resort at Squaw Creek and decorated with lights and ornaments by local businesses.

Record year

“I felt the effort was bigger this year than it has ever been before,” she said. “There was more participation by the community. It was the cooperation of people and people calling and saying they wanted to help and asking what they can do.”

Hartwell said the distribution went really well on Monday. While staff continued to perform last minute tasks for families and individuals they were helping this week, as well as lead the distribution, approximately 15 volunteers helped deliver groceries, gift baskets, coats and wrapped toys.

“The community was extremely generous again,” she said. “There were extra things that people just came in and gave us.”

The culinary classes at Tahoe-Truckee High School made cookies for every family and the leadership class made sure each gift basket had candy canes.

The Tahoe-Sierra Board of Realtors collected an amazing amount of non-perishable food, said Hartwell. And the California Highway Patrol again organized its CHiPs for Kids traffic safety campaign/toy drive, gathering toys for disadvantaged and hospitalized children in local communities while uniting a message of traffic safety.

Truckee Community Christmas donated extra foods to Project MANA to store in its food pantry.

Hartwell congratulates the Truckee community for pulling together with such enthusiasm to bring warmth and joy to those in need during the holidays.


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